The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date: November 1, 2016
Reviewed by: Courtney DeWitt
Fiction Addict Scorecard: B
Ah, teen love. This is the kind of love where bliss and heartbreak occur within the same day. This is the kind of love that makes you roll your eyes yet yearn for more. Teen love remains a love that many of us remember and look back on with wistfulness. Nicola Yoon looks at such a sentiment, as well as many other incarnations of love with clarity in The Sun Is Also a Star.
Daniel, poet that he is, believes in love. He believes in the head-over-heels, one-look-and-you-know feeling that makes one certain that a person is “The One.” He meets his One in Natasha, whom he comes to realize is also his antithesis. Natasha sees love as science- merely chemicals reacting in the body. Though really, she tries not to see anything as more than science and math, especially now that she and her family are being deported to Jamaica in less than a day.
As a coincidence, or as what Daniel would view as fate, these two meet in Manhattan and sparks fly. Now that Daniel has found his One, he determines to convince Natasha that a person can fall in love in one day. Though Natasha pushes him away, she too feels the chemicals that confuse her staunch logic. Still, how could she fall in love in one day? What would be the point if she’ll be in a different country by the next morning?
The Sun Is Also a Star follows Daniel and Natasha through Manhattan in one day, while also peering at the lives of those connected to them. As we see the reason Natasha and her family are being deported, we also learn how her family’s history lead to this point. While Daniel yearns to make Natasha fall in love with him, we see how little affection he receives from his family and why. Through the eyes of these two teens, we see two worlds collide. Yet we also see little bits of others’ views and histories, showing how others’ actions shaped Daniel and Natasha, and how they also shaped the lives of others through moments in time.
I went into this novel excited yet skeptical. Though I always adore a well-written love story, instalove tends to leave me with a sour expression. Fiction though it may be, and though those teenagers may feel like it’s love, I feel the urge to yell, “It’s infatuation!” I decided to keep an open mind and continue. After all, I remember feeling like one week with a high school beau meant forever. As I read, I realized instalove wasn’t the point. Though Natasha and Daniel focused on the emotions teenagers often do, the story went much deeper. Truly, love isn’t always about attraction, romance, and being together forever. Love is also accepting one’s family even with their major flaws. Love is being honest with oneself and those around you, looking at how one’s actions affect others. Love is as simple as making sure appreciation is known, even to a stranger. Love is messy, complex, simple, and clear all at once. I didn’t have to agree with the actions of Daniel, Natasha, and those in their lives to appreciate what it is to be human and to want acceptance.
One other aspect I struggled with was the format. The point of views switch from Daniel to Natasha generally, but the others connected to them on this one day are also inserted as well as histories of certain events and objects. Each chapter did connect with one another and maintained relevance. However, as an opinion, I found the very short lengths of the chapters to sometimes be jarring and interrupt the flow of the development. In some cases, I found the histories of things to interesting but not necessarily advance the action. I do appreciate point of view changes, as I have read several other novels with sometimes more than ten points of view in one story. The length simply felt choppy at times and broke the build up of tension.
Even still, I found much of the prose to be profound and contemplative. What began as another teen love story ended with thoughtful perspective about life itself and how many things connect to each other without our knowledge of such connections. What could have lead to two-dimensional protagonists ended with complex people very much reminiscent of those in real life. Even the characters other than Daniel and Natasha were shown with dynamism and humanity, bringing lush realism to the story. I’m still not convinced on instalove, as much as Daniel tried to do so. I am convinced that Nicola Yoon sees humanity in a beautiful way that brought me to think on how even my smallest actions can affect those that come into my life even if for a day.